Stoke City will be expecting another season of progress, with Mark Hughes’ side finishing in the top 10 last year and looking to build on that with some astute signings over the summer months.
[ MORE: All of PST’s season previews ]
The Potters have only won one major trophy in their 152-year history, which was the League Cup in 1972, but their history is rich as they were one of the founding members of the Football League back in 1888.
Stoke’s main rivals are third-tier Port Vale, but in the PL they are close to both Manchester clubs and the likes of Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion.
Best possible XI:
— Butland —
— Johnson — Shawcross — Muniesa — Pieters —
— Afellay — Adam — Cameron — Arnautovic —
— Bojan —
— Joselu —
Transfers In: Joselu ($9 million, Hannover 96), Phillip Wollscheid (Undisclosed, Bayer Leverkusen), Jakob Haugaard (Undisclosed, FC Midtjylland), Shay Given (Free, Aston Villa), Glen Johnson (Free, Liverpool), Moha El Ouriachi (Free, Barcelona), Dom Telford (Compensation, Blackpool), Mark Waddington (Compensation, Blackpool), Ibrahim Afellay (Free, Barcelona), Marco van Ginkel (Season-long loan, Chelsea)
Transfers Out: Wilson Palacios (Released), Thomas Sorensen (Released), Andy Wilkinson (Released), Robert Huth ($7 million, Leicester City), Steven Nzonzi ($10 million, Sevilla), Jamie Ness (Free, Scunthorpe United), Asmir Begovic ($12 million, Chelsea)
Last season: Ninth in Premier League – Stoke recorded their highest-ever points tally in the PL and it was also their highest ever PL finish. All in all, a great campaign for the Potters. If Bojan hadn’t gone down injured, they may have racked up even more points. Tough to break down, they pulled off big wins against Arsenal and Liverpool at home and everyone is aware that Stoke are an emerging team.
Star player: Bojan Krkic – The tiny Spanish playmaker has recovered from rupturing the ACL in his left knee and the man who will forever be know as “the next Messi” will be Stoke’s go-to guy this season. It will take him a little while to regain his best form, but when he does he knits everything together seamlessly for Stoke. With him, they are a completely different team as his creativity improves their offensive play substantially.
Coach’s corner: Mark Hughes has done a wonderful job at Stoke over the past two seasons to put them in the top 10 and this year they will look to push into the top eight. The Potters have been transformed into a team who loves to spray the ball around and although they still retain that physical power that made them into a PL mainstay, Stoke are a very good team to watch. Hughes has used his links at Barcelona from his playing days to bring in Bojan and Affelay, as the Britannia Stadium is a tough place to go. Hughes deserves a lot of credit.
PST predicts: Another season of progress for Stoke. Yes, they lost two key players in Begovic and Nzonzi, but they aren’t irreplaceable and they have added plenty of depth to their squad. Given their strong second half to last season, expect the Potters to be in the top 10 and challenging to win silverware in both the FA and League cups.